Batwoman

South Africa

I am Winnie, also known as Bubbly Winnie and if I could define myself in one word, I’d say that I’m bubbly because I talk a lot, I’m very lively. I am 21 years old and I doing my 4th year of a Bachelor of Education at the University of Johannesburg though I am originally from the Rustenburg in the North West Province. I grew up in a small township called Lethabong and that’s where I went to school, though I did live in Pretoria for a short time when I was young.

I was born with HIV and it has been a long journey to self-acceptance. When I was younger is struggled to take my antiretroviral (ART) medication consistently and I defaulted a lot, my health was up and down and eventually I became sick and was admitted to hospital.

I think I had difficulty accepting that I was living with HIV because at a young age I was not told why I was taking medication so I didn’t understand the consequences of not taking it and I rebelled. My parents did their best but disclosure to a child is hard and honest communication between parents and children about such things is difficult.

The good news is that despite my healthcare journey being up and down I’m now fully committed and adherent.

That is why I started a YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/c/BubblyWinnie) where I educate people about HIV and how they can live a healthy happy life with it, despite any challenges they may come across. I believe that if people feel like they belong and are loved and accepted they will value themselves and protect themselves. I know my story is one that many young people have lived through and if I share how I tackled the challenges I’ve faced, maybe that can help others.

I’m a big advocate for HIV prevention, encouraging those who are negative to stay negative and encouraging those who are positive to take their medication correctly and use condoms so they protect their partners from infection.

I’m passionate about people, about making change and about the power of education. For me education is not only what happens in a classroom, it is what you do to impact other people, to transform other people’s state of mind, to transform other people’s view of the world and that is why I started the YouTube channel – I wanted to fight stigma and educate people about HIV because new infections among young people are very high and people need real talk from someone who has lived with this their whole lives.

I’m a goal-orientated person and I’m not scared of hard work. I know that with persistence I can achieve anything.

That is me in a nutshell. I’m a bubbly, lively, full-of-life person who is passionate about education in all forms, be it in the classroom, in the community or on YouTube –  I’m all about transforming lives and impacting people in a positive way.